the after work nap stretched out until 10:30, woke up famished and barely able to stand. Out on the street two minutes later looking for a bite. Everything seems clearer somehow, that hour after waking may seem groggy and imprecise but perhaps it isn’t, and perhaps it is the hour of greatest clarity. There is no breeze – the high tree branches do not animate that street lamps. Cool enough for a jacket but I’m out in short sleeves and it feels nice to be awake under the cool night, sun already winked off and the skeeters back in their dens. There is the small rustle of activity, cyclists slowly pedaling their derailers into alley shadows, the orange house lights sometimes populated by dark figures, the faint sound of people talking, a plume of pre-bed smoke against a jamjar light fixture on a porch with rackety steps, a dog in a yard with his nose to the ground – silent but for his paws on a small patch of gravel, cars going by sounding so beautiful and hushed, a comfort, a small slice of happy air, a beat and an eyebrow for the taking, a loose-shouldered look at things, a quiet walk and a quiet observance, a thankful ending to the day.
the rail tracks appear blank and lonesome their terrible way laying until the morning, the man with the grizzled beard that I see every morning is wearing his glasses tonight – we pass and exchange a knowing glance and move on our ways, the river is scant meters from here and I never see it at night, the downtown core is on the downward hum the gentle slope into late night – it never quite comes to a stop and I always hope that those 24 hour lights will go out some day, traffic lights blather on, streetsigns crackle with reflected light, the busses push through the dark unfettered, someone in an apartment is playing billy joel and I always think of the 70’s when I hear billy joel, a siren tears into the peace of this night but right now it’s a comfort – a resignation, a sign that people are still living here, jeeps and midnight commodores stepping lightly on the sidewalk, a gentle breeze blowing up, it’s almost midnight, it’s time to go down, it’s time to sit and eat this feeling, it’s time get off this cold ground, it’s time to think about what things will be like at three am, if there will – finally – be peace
Editorial Note: This piece is the 100th article published on StreetRag.
Cars Through Window
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?